St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright back to the bullpen, where he should remain

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 10: Starter Carlos Martinez
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 10: Starter Carlos Martinez /

The former reliever and a key part of the 2006 World Series win for the St. Louis Cardinals goes back to where his career began.

Adam Wainwright has been a key part of the St. Louis Cardinals for over a decade now. Even though his best years of pitching look to be behind him, the right-hander is still a big part of the heart and soul of the team. Wainwright believes that he has more left in the tank as a starter, but for at least the rest of 2017 Waino will be looking on from the bullpen while Jack Flaherty gets his spot in the rotation.

After playing just two games for the Cardinals in 2005, Wainwright was a reliever for 2006 and after that season he has been the team’s ace. However, these past two seasons have seen Wainwright be the opposite of an ace, looking like a #5 or at best a #4 starter.

While he has shown flashes of “Vintage Waino,” the Georgia native has never put all the pieces back together since he tore his Achilles in 2015. Since returning from his second major injury of his career, Wainwright has been far from his old self.

In 56 starts Wainwright has an ERA of 4.81 and a FIP of 4.07 and has allowed exactly 10 hits per nine with a WHIP of 1.438. Despite his struggles, Wainwright somehow has a winning record during this time frame of 25-14 and proving that the win is a bad stat to observe if a pitcher is good or not (shout out to you, 2005 Bartolo Colon).

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A move to the bullpen could benefit Wainwright as it is not like he has been below average in every start. In a four-start stretch from May 14 to June 1, Wainwright allowed one run over 26.1 innings and held opponents to a slash line of .172/.252/.215. Perhaps bullpen appearances can allow Wainwright to maintain success as he can be effective over the course of an inning or two.

Now onto Wainwright’s potential replacement, Jack Flaherty, who will take Wainwright’s next start in the rotation at least. Flaherty was a part of the dominant Memphis Redbirds who got his first MLB start against the San Francisco Giants and gave up five runs over four innings of work.

Flaherty has not been able to pitch more than five innings in any of his three starts thus far. That five-inning start came against the San Diego Padres on September 6 and featured just three hits and one allowed run despite walking four.

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Fellow Memphis standout Luke Weaver did need a few starts before coming into his own and Flaherty could be the same. With Alex Reyes returning for next season, the St. Louis Cardinals will have a solid rotation for 2018, especially if Flaherty finds himself at the major league level. I love you Adam Wainwright, but let the young guys see what they can do.